4 easy steps to keep your nonprofit productive on projects over summer
Are you anxious about losing momentum over the summer on some key projects and initiatives that your team is working on? As employees move into summer mode, the ability to keep things rolling can be challenging and trying for leaders.
Fear not! Here are 5 ways to use summer to gain momentum rather than lose it.
I’m distracted before holiday time
When I am getting ready to go on vacation, the final working days are focused on tying up loose ends so that nothing unravels while I’m gone. My mind is on red flags and potential hotspots. I am not focused enough to be able to sit down and do the deep thinking that is often required on larger projects.
I’m trying to get caught up when I get back
Upon returning from vacation, the following days are dedicated to putting out any fires that arose, catching up on the office happenings and trying to clean out my inbox. Unfortunately, once again, I am not usually in the right frame of mind to be able to dig deep on a project.
The day or two before we leave on holiday and certainly the days after
we come back are often considered write-offs for most people. Combine everyone’s time off, and it seems like a lost few months.
Therefore when someone is away for a week, it feels like you’ve lost two weeks to focus on a project. Add to that the sunshine, ice cream cones and the kids being out of school as distractions, and it’s even harder over summer to get anything done at the office. So it’s easy to see how we can lose momentum in team projects as people alternate being away for summer vacation.
A leader can choose to see summer differently
As the leader in charge, it can be disheartening for you to see a project come to a standstill. However, projects do not have to get derailed over the summer. When you step back and see the gift in this shift of office rhythm over summer, you can put it to good use!
Summer schedules can allow more focused project time
The truth is you can accomplish a lot over summer because there are fewer distractions in many ways. In summer, there are fewer people in the office, fewer meetings and generally a slower pace. Use this to your advantage to get ahead on some of the components of the project.
5 ways to use summer to gain momentum
rather than lose it
1️⃣ First, break the project down between group
and individual tasks
A meeting between two people can be more effective than a large group meeting.
👥 A duo can:
- get ideas rolling
- outline options
- create a starting point for the larger group to work from.
🙋♀️ Individually, you can:
- Review the material instead of waiting until the meeting and asking someone to explain it to you.
- Identify questions and email them to people so they can prepare their answers.
- Complete research
- Prepare statistics
- Draft specific written portions of the work
2️⃣ Block off time to work on the project
Our role as leaders is often mentoring. Therefore, summer is an excellent time to show how to get things done despite the season. Typically our calendars are less scheduled in the summer. As a result, it’s easy almost to get almost lazy as we go through days.
📆 Schedule time into your calendar
When you block off a set time to work on a project in your agenda, it gives you the ability to focus during those 2 hours.
🗣 Communicate your intentions
Tell those around you that you are unavailable and not to disrupt you. Treat the time you have identified as if it were a meeting with another person. This not only keeps others from chatting with you but adds in the layer of accountability. By clearly identifying to others that we are working on a project, you tend to feel more motivated to stay on task. After all, if you say you are working on it, you should have something to show for it after.
🙋♀️ Get others to participate
Ask participants on the team also to identify a block of time or times when they are working alone on the project. Have them identify what precisely they will be doing during that time. Ensure they commit to their part by a specific date.
✅ Keep everyone accountable
Hold each other accountable for what you say you will be working on. Set conversation times with others for the afternoon when it is easier to get derailed. Perhaps meet out at the picnic table or do a walking meeting. Getting outside will infuse creativity and innovation into your conversation and give you some time to enjoy all that summer has to offer.
3️⃣ Set realistic goals for summer
Start by looking at a calendar and people’s schedules to determine how much time you have to work on the project over the summer period.
- Identify how many hours ⏳ you truly have to work on the project.
- Consider what you can accomplish 🤔 with that amount of time
- Write down your 📈 plans and targets. Be specific about:
- The smaller project components
- Who’s responsible for which parts
- Deadlines, due dates and targets
🖥 Put the summer plan and targets in a place everyone has access to. Having identified targets to work on keeps people motivate and on board.
4️⃣ Build in frequent review systems
Review is a critical component of goal achievement. It keeps people aware, engaged and interested. Listed below are some ways to develop a review system for your team.
- Use online project management software such as Trello, Basecamp, Clickup or Asana to keep track of the parts of the project, persons responsible and deadlines.
- Use a Google or Microsoft document that all team members have access to, allowing you to keep track of what parts have been completed and what needs reviewing.
- Have weekly 10-minute conference calls for whoever is in attendance to update what is happening. Have them recorded so others can listen to them when they return from holidays to keep up to date. The key is these review sessions need to be very short and entirely on task.
Get excited and lead your team to a productive summer
Please don’t throw up your hands now and say it’s useless to get anything done this summer. Instead, give yourself a knowing smile as you:
- Set the intention that you will get more done this summer.
- Get clear on what you are doing to do, when and who’s responsible.
- Choose to lead productively through summer rather than give up.
- Make sure you and your team set a date for celebration to acknowledge the focused concentration over the summer!
What will you do to keep the momentum going in your summer project? Hit reply and let me know!
Is it time for you to work on you?
Is summer a time when you want to recommit to your learning journey, set your personal and professional goals, and get started on the next steps? You may be interested in this series of training in my membership site The Training Library
Originally published at https://www.kathyarcher.com.